I’ve been hearing disturbing stories from disgruntle newlyweds who were screwed (or just plain uninformed) while trying to obtain their wedding photos. To help you out, I knew just the person to contact. Kesha Lambert is a talented photographer who has brought smiles to many bride’s faces but she’s also a seasoned attorney! Check out my Q&A with the lady behind the lens and do forward this to anyone who intends to hire a professional photographer for any important upcoming event.
Black Bridal Bliss: What are three questions nearlyweds should remember to ask prospective wedding photographers to provide before booking them?
Kesha Lambert: 1. Ask the photographer about their level of experience photographing weddings. There are challenges specific to weddings (low light shooting, guest shooters, etc.) and an experienced wedding photographer will be familiar with and accustomed to handling them. This is not to say a couple should rule out working with a less experienced photographer; but being informed will help manage expectations on all sides. 2. A couple should make sure they understand the photographer’s cancellation terms; if you leave your deposit and decide later that you’d prefer to use another photographer there will likely be some forfeiture of all or part of your deposit. A couple should fully understand these terms before signing. 3. Be clear on the terms of image ownership, permission for use, etc. (practices vary widely among wedding photographers). Do the rates include release of the high resolution files, or are the rates for time and talent only? If the rates are for time and talent only couples should be informed about the fees they can expect to pay for prints and digital copies after all is done.
BBB: How important is signing a contract or written agreement before paying a photographer?
KL: Very important! Your contract should clearly outline the promises and obligations of all parties concerned, as well as the remedies and entitlements in the event of a breach. Your photographs are your memories documented. In most instances photography represents a significant chunk of a couple’s wedding budget. Couples will have a significant financial and personal investment in their photography. Something this important should not be at the mercy of handshake agreement.
BBB: How can nearlyweds ensure they get the shots that mean the most to them — like Grandpa doing the Wobble — and not just the traditional bride being escorted down the aisle by her father kind of shots?
KL: Tip your photographer off! Remember your photographer is getting a crash course on you and your loved ones. A couple should provide their photographer a shot list and a list of people that are significant to them as a couple. Give your photographer a heads up if anyone in the family has any quirky or fun tendencies. That being said there isn’t a photographer I know who would guarantee that a specific shot will be captured. Emotional moments are fleeting and at weddings in particular there are many unpredictable variables that can interfere with getting a specific shot. Choosing a photographer that uses an experienced second shooter (not an assistant) will add some insurance to capturing your shot list.
BBB: What is the one mistake you think couples make most often that leads to them getting screwed out of their money when booking a wedding photographer and why?
KL: Choosing their photographer on price first then style. This is not to undermine the importance of budgeting and yes, I am partial, but photography is one of the most important items that a couple will book for their wedding. I have received a great numer of bookings from couples looking to reshoot their wedding portraits because they ‘spent all this money on their photography and hate their photos‘. The first consideration should be Do I love this photographer’s work?. Once a couple has narrowed things down to “photographer’s whose work I love” they should then whittle it down by price. Another big mistake is not understanding and reading the terms of your service agreement. And don’t be afraid to negotiate and/or request to revise wording where you find terms that are unclear or of concern.
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Check out more of Kesha’s work here!